- Measurement in health psychology: combining theory, qualitative, and quantitative methods to do it right
- 6th Methods in Health Psychology Symposium
- The European Health Psychologist
- Volume | Issue number
- 18 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
A recent debate in Health Psychology Review demonstrated the importance of careful attention to measurement and operationalisation of health psychology constructs (Beauchamp, 2016; Brewer, 2016; de Vries, 2016; Schwarzer & McAuley, 2016; Williams & Rhodes, 2016a, 2016b). This need is met by rapid developments in the theory and measurement of health psychology constructs as evidenced by recent publications and conference contributions (e.g. Dima et al., 2014). However, these enhanced methods have been slow to disseminate into research practice. One reason may be that the new perspectives afforded by these developments and the related tools were not part of the curricula of most researchers currently active in health psychology. This lack of familiarity may manifest itself as an obstacle that appears difficult to overcome, thereby obstructing wide-spread use of these methods in research. The goal of the sixth Methods in Health Psychology symposium, held at the annual EHPS conference in Aberdeen in 2016, was to address this by increasing attendees’ familiarity with several new developments in this field. The symposium brought together five contributions, combining theory and methods from qualitative and quantitative traditions to provide a broad overview of the state of the art, limitations of current practices, and options for improvement. Moreover, the symposium aimed to give its attendants practical suggestions to apply these insights, as well as facilitate access to their corresponding tools. The symposium started with the presentation from Gjalt-Jorn Peters of a novel perspective on the nature and inter-relations of psychological variables and implications for their measurement. This perspective facilitates a flexible and theoretically promiscuous approach to operationalization and measurement, affording researchers more flexibility in the development and assessment of measurement instruments. This was followed by the presentation of Anne Marie Plass introducing tools to explore and improve operationalization in questionnaire development or adaptation using Cognitive Interviewing. Several problems with common assumptions about validity were pointed out and solutions provided for addressing these. Rik Crutzen provided an overview of the current practices regarding assessment of the quality of measurement instruments. Although these practices are strongly rooted in classical testing theory, important assumptions of the statistical models used were routinely violated. An accessible, freely-available procedure for improvement was introduced and explained. Alexandra Dima demonstrated stepwise procedures that leverage psychometric techniques to improve the understanding and operationalization of psychological constructs. Chris Gibbons introduced computer adaptive testing using Concerto, an open source system based on the flexible R and mySQL platforms, and discussed its benefits for health psychology research. At the end of the symposium, Frank Doyle summarized the five previous contributions and proposed several directions regarding how these insights can be implemented in practice to improve the standard of measurement in health psychology. The presentations and additional materials are available on the Open Science Framework through links on the Health Psychology Methods page on the EHPS website at http://ehps.net/content/health-psychology-methods. These materials are available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, unless indicated otherwise. Below, each contribution is briefly summarized from the perspective of this symposium.
- EHPS report
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